Large Employers Expecting Moderate Care Cost Increase

Two surveys suggest these companies continue to try new ways to control the expense of employees’ coverage.

Big employers expect health costs to continue rising by about 6 percent in 2017, a moderate increase compared with historical trends that nevertheless far outpaces growth in the economy, two new surveys show. Employers are changing tactics to address the trend, slowing the shift to worker cost sharing and instead offering video or telephone links to doctors, scrutinizing specialty-drug costs and steering patients to hospitals with records of lower costs and better results.

According to the National Business Group on Health, most large-company employees should expect a 5 percent increase in their premiums next year and, in contrast to previous years, “minimal changes” to plan designs. The portion of employers offering high-deductible health plans next year — 84 percent — is essentially unchanged from 2016, according to a NBGH report.

 Moderate cost trends in the large-employer market seemingly contrast with those in the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplaces, where plans sold to individuals are seeking premium increases of 10 percent or more .

Our Insight: With moderate increases on the horizon, large companies have the opportunity to focus on improving plan performance buy building greater efficiency in plan design and implementation. While seas are calm, now is a great time to improve the administration and analysis of your plan.

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